Don’t Give Up on Freelancing, Look Into Ghostwriting

Don’t Give Up on Freelancing, Look Into Ghostwriting

Before you go back to a 9 to 5, look into ghostwriting. (Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels.)

I’ve been surprised by the number of established freelance writers who have recently opted to accept full-time jobs.

There’s no judgment here – I get it. Many folks grow tired of the feast or famine cycles typical of freelance writing.

A steady paycheck for a set amount every two weeks sounds really appealing after a dry spell. No more working 16-hour days or weekends when client work suddenly comes pouring in, due on Monday, of course. The ability to budget effectively, because you know how much money will hit your bank account on Friday. And fewer sleepless nights worrying about whether that client really did put the check in the mail.

Freelance writing is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

And yet, if you can build up a steady stream of well-paying client work, the freelance life couldn’t be better. Work when you want, where you want, on projects you choose – if you can reach the point at which you’re generating a regular cycle of projects.

That can take time.

And yet, there are lucrative writing niches that can produce incomes that make it possible to work less and still earn more.

Yes, ghostwriting is one of them. (So is writing about technology, white paper production, and corporate marketing communications.) Develop expertise in those areas and you may be able to stack client projects to provide that paycheck we all envy of salaried employees.

But if ghostwriting sounds intriguing, here’s what you need to know about it.

Demand for ghostwriters is rising. You might be surprised to hear about the number of job postings members of the Association of Ghostwriters receive each month.

Aspiring authors, bloggers, and national speakers are increasingly realizing that farming out writing to a professional makes a whole lot of sense. Not only will they get better quality output, but while the ghostwriter is penning their articles or book, they can be doing what they do best at work.

Pay is typically higher because the writer’s role is anonymous. I say typically because, like everything, clients and their budgets vary.

Ghostwritten book projects pay anywhere from $10,000 and up, with most above $20,000. Blog posts can range from $.25/word to $1+/word. Your expertise and track record have a big impact on what a client is willing to pay.

But not requiring a byline is worth a premium to clients who need to attach their name to content.

You need to be able to write in someone else’s voice. We all have our own voice, or style and pattern of writing. When we’re given an assignment, we crank it out in our voice. But a ghostwriter needs to be able to explain concepts and tell stories in the client’s voice.

That means matching their speech patterns, using words and phrases they prefer, and putting information together in a way that sounds like them and not you.

That’s the most challenging part about ghostwriting, really. Adopting someone else’s voice takes skill.

Partnering with a ghostwriting agency can lead to steady work. With more ghostwriting and independent publishing firms cropping up to serve the growing need for content, it is becoming easier to line up a steady stream of projects. Check out Kevin Anderson & Associates, for example. Or Gotham Ghostwriters, just to name a couple.

When that happens, you have the best of both worlds – more predictable cash flow and the flexibility and independence that freelance writers love so much.

Under what circumstances would you take a full-time job?

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Marcia Layton Turner

3 Comments

  1. Nancy on August 31, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Ghostwriting fees depend on the scope of the project, and I agree that ghostwriting a book is typically $20,000 and up. Self-published books can be quite short, which is why the ranges vary so much. If someone just wants a 30,000-word book to use as a giveaway, to sell on Amazon to drum up business, and to help them establish their brand, that’s different from wanting a 75,000-word memoir written from scratch, with no rough draft or transcripts of stories.

  2. Kate Frank on August 31, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    While getting projects for article, web content and copywriting jobs is hard, don’t think for a moment it is easy to become a paid ghostwriter. Writers who want to compete on Upwork and Craig’s list will get a lot of competition for very low paying projects.

    I am thrilled by the fact more people recognize the value of hiring ghostwriters. However, too many of the people accepting projects are offering writing services to serve themselves, instead of the client.

    I encourage new ghostwriters to do two counter-intuitive things. First, as you mentioned, get out of your own voice and into the voice of the author client. Two, think about how the author client will make money from the book. If you have no expertise or experience in marketing, find someone who does and/or start studying what makes a book sell.

  3. Allen Smith on November 8, 2018 at 12:05 am

    I’m always amazed at how little clients estimate for the job.

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